“Ten years ago, I would have to ring to find a forestry contractor. Five years ago, when the industry started to slow, they were ringing me looking for work.
“In the last couple of years, there were no phone calls at all,” said Dermot Houlihan, chair of the Association of Irish Forestry Consultants.
He is highlighting the other problem that is emerging following the long dormancy of the forestry industry in Ireland.
Many of the people who worked on the ground in planting and forest establishment have moved on to other industries, taking their skills with them.
“Skilled workers cannot be produced out of a hat,” Houlihan added, saying that there isn’t enough money in the new grants to attract people back into the industry.
Payments for establishing new forestry are 20% higher in the new programme than those in the 2014 programme.
Inflation in Ireland has risen 17% since January 2014 and is expected to accelerate in 2023, wiping out any increase in payments in real terms.